Author Archives: Jenny

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Tasty Tomato Tarts

Category : Karoo Kitchen , Karoo Life

These simple and delicious morsels are a favourite on the farm!

Wonderful as a starter, light meal served with a green salad.

We often cut the Tarts into 4 as a delicious evening snack.


Square sheets Puff Pastry, cut into 4 squares.

Make a small indentation with a blunt knife 1cm in from each side.

Brush lightly with egg.

Spread a layer of Cream Cheese and  1-2 tsp onion marmalade on top.

Add a few drops of Pomodoro or Arrabiata pasta sauce.

Cut baby tomatoes in half, and pile on top.

Squeeze on a few drops Balsamic Glaze, and pop into the oven at 200 deg

Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching closely until gently browned.

These freeze so well and easily, also reheat perfectly well.

Find out more about our delicious approach to traditional Karoo cuisine here.


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“KAROO” – Lawrence G Green

Category : Karoo Animals



“The countless springboks are my flock
Spread o’er the unbounded plain.”
-Thomas Pringle

THOSE vast springbok migrations which devastated the karoo districts of South Africa almost up to the end of last century must have formed the most dramatic scenes in the whole world of mammals.
One cannot see everything, but I am sorry these cavalcades of fur and flesh occurred before my time. There was a trekboer once,
a natural artist as a story teller, whose tale gave me the human side of it; one of those tales which carried the ring of personal experience in every vivid detail.
This man had left the Transvaal with his family in the eighteen­-seventies as a boy of ten. They were members of the first “Thirstlandtrek,” a group of people impelled by real or imaginary grievances, and certainly by a restless spirit, to seek a new country.
Many died in the desert. Some reached Angola. But this family of Van der Merwes broke away from the ill-fated wagons and headed south. They spent their lives trekking with their sheep and cattle in search of grass. When the old people died, the son Gert went on living the only life he knew; sometimes in Bechuanaland, in the Kalahari and often in the North West Cape. By the time he was twenty-one he had a wife and three children, two coloured shepherds and a Bushman touleier to lead the oxen and find the way from one water-hole or vlei to the next.
One morning Gert van der Merwe’s wagon was plodding along the dry, hard bed of the Molopo river where it forms the southern border of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Gert noticed that the Bushman seemed worried about something. In the middle of the morning the Bushman left his oxen suddenly and ran off into the bush on the high northern bank of the river. At noon Gert stopped for the usual outspan and meal. His wife had just settled down to the cooking when the Bushman raced into camp and urged the party to inspan and follow him immediately. “The trekbokke are coming,” the Bushman declared. “It will be death to stay in the river-bed.”

Gert packed up, wondering whether the alarm was justified, but remembering that he had his family with him. The Bushman led the wagon out of the river-bed, up the north bank to a hill. Van der Merwe drove the wagon up the hill as far as the oxen would pull it. Then they went to the summit of the hill and the Bushman pointed.
At first Gert could see nothing unusual, but later he observed a faint cloud of dust along the horizon. It was miles away and did not suggest any great danger to him. However, the Bushman persuaded him to cut and pile thorn bushes as a barrier round the wagon and cattle. The Bushman explained that if the running springbok came over the hill instead of round it they would trample every living thing in their path to death. However, he hoped the thorn bush and the wagon would make them swerve.
After protecting his wagon and stock, Gert climbed the hill again. By now the dust was only a few miles away, rising high in the air and spread over a wide front. Gert’s hill appeared to be in the centre of the oncoming game. Now, for the first time, he felt a little nervous, for he realized that anything could happen if such a stampede passed through the camp. So he ordered his wife and children into the wagon and made the dogs fast under the wagon tent. With the aid of the two coloured men and the Bushman he gathered heaps of dry wood and placed them in front of the wagon. By throwing green stuff on top of each pile he hoped to send up enough smoke to startle the buck and cause them to swing aside.
Gert waited on the hill summit. The buck were still hidden in their dust screen, but hares and jackals and other small animals were racing past the hill and taking no notice of the human beings. Snakes were out in the open, too, moving fast and seeking cover under the rocks on the hill. Gert and his men threw stones at the snakes that came too close, but the snakes seemed to be dominated by a greater fear. Meerkat families and field mice also appeared in large numbers.
At last came a faint drumming. No doubt the Bushman had sensed this drumming hours before, with his ear to the ground. Only now could Gert hear it. The cloud of dust was dense and enormous, and the front rank of the springbok, running faster than galloping horses, could be seen. They were in such numbers that Gert found the sight frightening. He could see a front line of buck at least three miles long, but he could not estimate the depth. Ahead of the main body were swift voorlopers, moving along as though they were leading the army.
When the buck came within a mile of the hill the Bushman ran to the wagon and climbed in despite the growling of the dogs. He was taking no chances. Gert and the coloured men then moved pausing only to light the fires. They remained with the cattle, which had sensed the danger and were milling round and lowing nervously. Gert’s wife wanted him inside the wagon; but he was gripped by the vast spectacle and climbed on to the hood for a better view.
The first solid groups of buck swept past on both sides of the kill. After that the streams of springbok were continuous, making for the river and the open country beyond. Then the pressure increased, the buck became more crowded. No longer was it possible for them to swerve aside when they reached the fires and the wagon. Gert said he could have flicked the horde with his whip from where he sat on the wagon tent. Some crashed into the wagon and were jammed in the wheels, injured and trampled upon. The wagon became the centre of a mass of dead and dying buck; and Gert saw more biltong than he could have secured in a year’s expensive shooting. But the thorn barrier had broken, and the buck were among the cattle. Before long the terrified, bellowing cattle stampeded and vanished into the dust in the direction of the river. Gert had to let them go. There was only death for anyone who ventured after them among the horns and hooves of the buck.
At the height of the rush, said Gert, the noise was overwhelming. Countless hooves powdered the surface to fine dust, and everyone found it hard to breathe. Gert’s wife, who had been watching the rush with frightened interest, had to draw the blankets over herself and the children. The dust had almost smothered them. Everything in the wagon was an inch deep in pale yellow dust, and the coloured men had also turned yellow.
Within an hour the main body of springbok had passed, but that was not the end of the spectacle. Until long after sunset, hundreds upon hundreds of stragglers followed the great herd. Some were exhausted, some crippled, some bleeding. Gert wondered what had happened to the hares and jackals, and the snakes which had not taken cover in time. Next day he found the answer.
All night lone buck passed the wagon. The air cleared, but dust rose again when there was any movement in the camp. At daybreak Gert climbed the hill to see whether he could find his cattle. He had food, and there was a water-hole not far away in the dry river-bed; but without the oxen he was stranded.
The morning air was so clear, the day so bright, that Gert felt for a moment as though the events of the previous dy had a nightmare quality. Then he saw that the landscape, which had been covered with trees of fair sizes, green with food for his cattle, were gaunt stumps and bare branches. The buck had brushed off all herbage in their passing, and splintered the young trees so that they would never grow again.
Far in the distance Gert thought he could see a few of his oxen. After breakfast he set off with his men to recover them. Every donga leading into the river, every little gully was filled with buck. It seemed that the first buck had paused on the brink, considering the prospects of leaping across. Before they could decide, the ruthless mass was upon them. Buck after buck was pushed into the donga, until the hollow was filled and the irresistible horde went on over the bodies.
Other sights reminded Gert of the fate he and his family had escaped by accepting the Bushman’s warning. Small animals were lying dead everywhere – tortoises crushed almost to pulp, fragments of fur that had been hares. A tree, pointing in the direction of the advancing buck, had become a deadly spike on which two springbok were impaled.
For a fortnight Gert camped on that hill beside the Molopo, searching for his cattle.He found half of them. The fate of the others remained a mystery. They might have been borne along by the impetus of the stampede until they fell and were trampled to death; or they might have escaped from the living trap far away from the wagon. Gert inspanned the survivors thankfully and the wagon rolled on, away from the scene of destruction. When he told the tale, it was clear that he regarded it as the most memorable episode in a life which he regarded as the finest on earth. “Ons lewe lekker. Dit is vir ons heeltemal goed genoeg,” declared Gert at the end of his story. “We live well. It is absolutely good enough for us.”

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Scimitar Oryx

Category : Karoo Animals , Karoo Life

This beautiful species of Oryx, also known as Sahara Oryx, were once widespread across North Africa but became extinct in the wild around 2000.

How sad is this! – and whatever could have caused it?

In short….. human disturbance, over-hunting, drought and loss of food due to excessive livestock grazing were all reasons for this elegant antelope to diminish so drastically in the wild.

Scimitar Oryx are supremely adapted to desert life, and can dissipate heat through their appendages, so their extinction is particularly onerous for conservation today.

These antelope are amazing in that they are able to tolerate an internal body temperature of 116 deg Fahrenheit do not need to sweat much, so can therefore conserve water. They rid themselves of excess heat at night when their body temps can drop well below normal.

So, despite their developed adaptation abilities, these graceful Antelope have become seriously threatened in the last  two decades.

Conservation Scientists are presently working on reintroduction programs in Tunisia, Chad and Niger, and we are happy to report that our Karoo programs in this arena have been enormously successful.

Lifespan of Scimitar Oryx in the wild is unknown, but it is thought that with human care, they can live well into their 20’s.

On our Karoo farm just south of Richmond in the Northern Cape, we have found our Scimitar to be perfectly well adapted to the Karoo climate and conditions; they reproduce well, a most telling sign of good adaptation.

We need to keep our Scimitar Oryx separate from the generic Karoo Gemsbok to prevent interbreeding, so have them roaming Vlei Camp, which covers approximately 3000 hectares of Karoo Veld.

We #LoveOurKaroo – and all that we protect within this biosphere!

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Bokkie the Baby White Springbok

This is a White Springbok, indigenous in South Africa. White Springbok are not albino’s, but a different color phase to the normal Springbok, with a recessive gene.

3 days after rescuing Bokkie, he began to feed easily; had lost his sucking reflex due to the trauma, so needed much persuasion initially.

Amazing to see his instincts kicking in; identified one spot in the garden where he immediately gravitates to, must have an excellent inbuilt GPS!

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rain at last

Rain at last

Category : Karoo Life

Drought has been Broken!

We’re thankful to report that after our worst drought in living memory, we’ve had excellent rains, and all farm dams are full. 133 mm since the beginning of 2017!

Having studied Weather Reports for months, always in hope of rain which the Karoo desperately needed, we were overjoyed last week; first a downpouring, then soft patter rain to embed itself into the parched Karoo earth.

Warm sunny weather after good rains is critical – to enable grass and veld to shoot, and grow.  Rains come during Autumn or Winter aren’t much help to the Karoo Veld.

rain at last

The dam alongside the road to BloemhofKaroo –
fuller than we’ve ever seen it.

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Christmas in the Karoo

Always a reminder of how the year has flown by when once again we cut a tall Aloe flower that has already begun to dry……and that becomes our Karoo Christmas Tree.

This ritual provides us with so much joy, and our Chapel takes on the Spirit of Christmas.

Never cease to be amazed by the diversity of the Karoo, and the ingenuity of the local people.

Aloe Christmas Tree

Martha is busy every spare minute Preparing, Preserving and Bottling!….. she’s turning out the most delicious Apple Chutney, delicious with Christmas ham; Apricot Jam; various Marmalades, and much else.

All of these items available from our farm Gift Shop – gorgeous Christmas and Holiday Gifts!

Bloemhof Karoo chutney

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Christiaan Barnard's Birth Place - Bloemhof Karoo

Chris Barnard Museum and Birthplace

When travelling to the Karoo, don’t forget to spend half an hour in the frontier town of Beaufort West, for many the true entry into the Great/Upper Karoo.


“Beaufort” belongs to one of our most beloved South African citizens, the late Professor Christiaan Barnard.
Visit the Barnard Museum, the Missionary Church, and the Birthplace of Marius and Christiaan Barnard, their father having moved to Beaufort West to establish a Missionary Church.


Pop in to Proudly Karoo across the road to meet Hillet Scheun and browse their lovely mohair and embroidery creations.

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Land of Thirst

Category : Karoo Life

The Karoo’s name is derived from the Khoisan word meaning “land of thirst”.

Despite the barren landscape, the Karoo is home to some 9000 species of succulents and abundant wildlife.  The borders of the Great Karoo (home of BloemhofKaroo country guest house, near Richmond, Northern Cape) touch 4  provinces of South Africa, and this area forms the second largest plateau region outside Asia!

The original residents of the Karoo were the Khoisan and the San.   The Khoisan relied on sheep and cattle for their livelihood, whereas the San were Hunters. These 2  tribes were the last Stone Age people in South Africa, but their way of life dissipated due to settlers who began farming  the Karoo in the 19th century.

One reads about 7 year droughts in the Great Karoo.

The indigenous people and early settlers developed a method of irrigation using “lei-vore”. These are manmade furrows or channels, which offer an ingenious method of flooding crops and lands.

This tried and tested method of irrigation is still used in parts of the Karoo, for example at BloemhofKaroo near Richmond in the Northern Cape.

Rainwater is held in tanks, and the underground water is pumped by Windmills at every opportunity into a dam, from where water is channeled  into furrows which lie in parallel lines in the planted lands.

These pictures show the flooding mechanism so successfully used in the Karoo.

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Karoo Drinking Water

Category : Karoo Life

Four years down the line, there are still grave concerns about long term effects of shale-gas fracking in the Karoo

Click here for full article: “Scientist call to test Karoo water before Fracking begins”

BloemhofKaroo took initiative 3 years ago and had their underground water tested by Bemlab.

“The water is ideal, and microbiologically extremely pure.”

PH value of 7,5.
No bacterial growth detected.

These tests should prove invaluable in time, should Fracking proceed.

Karu Blu is bottled at the spring source, and is available at BloemhofKaroo.

~ It’s like drinking Health! ~dsc_0820

This water gushes out from deep underground all year round from a very inaccessible part of the farm.


For full scientific report on the excellent properties of this water, contact